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Logo-ing it out!

Well, after the Bosworth Conservative Future bloggers got themselve into a bit of a pickle by putting out a Tory logo creator that went awfully wrong, some examples of it here, and then quickly pulling it, the Go Fourth bunch have decided to allow us to keep up having some fun for a while longer with their own logo generator.

Go on, give it a go, you know you want to.

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‘What you won’t hear from me this week is the sort of easy cheap lines beating up on the market system, bashing financiers, tt might get you some easy headlines, but it is not going to pay a single mortgage, it’s not going to save a single job’ – David Cameron, 28 September 2008

‘The Government seems to have done absolutely nothing about it and yet the bonus season and the results season is now upon us’ – David Cameron, 9 September 2008

Clear isn’t it?

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The White House today announced the celebration of the economic summit in New York in mid-November. The G-20 countries are meeting up to design a new structure for capitalism. It definitely sounds glamorous, it sounds like a 21st century Bretton Woods.

But there are two key reasons  why this economic summit is complete rubbish.

The first reason is because by the time the summit kicks off on 13th of November the US electorate will have elected a new President. By that time the host of the summit, the man speaking on behalf the most powerful economy in the world, will officially be a lame duck, even if in practice he already is. Who is going to be seriously negotiating with a man who his own fellow countrymen believe to be an utter disgrace in economic affairs? specially knowing he is gone and a new, definitely more protectionist President whether Obama or McCain, could easily roll back any agreement they might have hammered down in this summit.

The second reason is the exclusion of Spain from the negotiating table. Now, I know most of you are going to roll your eyes and think this is just a bitter comment with a bit of a nationalist flair to it. And partly it is, that sentiment was what initially made me think about writing this post. But please bear with me, because I think I do have a point.

Brown, Sarkozy and Barroso have said they wanted Spain to attend the summit. The Bush administration has declined inviting Zapatero on the grounds that only the G-20 countries should attend. Now, I have no problem with the developing countries attending. But I do have it with the developed ones. Out of the G-7 countries (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan), five have had to save several of their national banks (US, UK, France and Germany), one is in a deep economic stagnation coupled with a serious leadership crisis (Italy), Japan which is ok and Canada which is pretty irrelevant in this case. Now, on the other hand you have Spain, which despite finding itself in a deep housing crisis and having been exposed to the credit crunch as much as the G-7 countries, has a banking sector that has not just weathered the storm but gone on the offensive buying banks abroad. Santander has bought three UK banks in as many years, Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley and across the Atlantic it has bought Sovereign. BBVA has entered China through Citic Group and has become one of the most important banking entities in America through its BBVA USA network.

The reason for this is the regulatory system set up in Spain by both the government and the central bank. Weekly risk assessment committees asses Spanish banks investment decisions to guarantee their soundness. The level of savings guaranteeing liabilities are the highest (without being excessive or burdensome to business) in the Western financial system. Good regulation not excessive regulation, exactly what is expected of this summit. You don’t believe me? Read this and this.

Now, if the Spanish banking sector is done much better than its counterparts and this is certainly due to a better regulatory system. Why shouldn’t the country responsible for this system be invited to provide that experience to a summit on world financial regulation?

These are my two reasons why next month’s summit in New York will either be not more than a photo-op for world leaders (Gleneagles style) or a total shambles of inefficient regulation which will not stand for long and certainly not help reassure markets in the tough year to come.

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The great thing about blogs is that random thoughts can be expressed freely whenever one feels like it without a subeditor automatically going mental on the waste of valuable printed space. This is not just fun for the blogger, but in fact gives the blog a flair of easiness and the much needed wit missing in Britain’s currently over-pessimistic MSM.

On that spirit Hopi Sen has written an extremely amusing, and brilliantly accurate, description of that 21st century phenomenon that is networking. So on that spirit of banal reflection I would like to add my own thoughts on the matter.

Networking has become the obsession of millions of professionals across the world. From young graduates to senior executives, everyone is at it lately. Parties aren’t what they used to be. They don’t call it working for anything. Every time one goes to an event or party the fatal ‘word’ appears. ‘Great opportunity to network here mate’ is probably the most repeated sentence by hundreds of professionals armed with an arsenal of business cards to be distributed randomly throughout the room.

So my question is, what happened to good old chatting? random chatting, small talk, unpretentious and relaxed talking for the sake of it? are we unable anymore to go to a party convention to just have a drink and talk to fellow party activists about whatever we feel like and really engage in a conversation that has no final aim of growing our already fat address book? Just like the Slow Food Movement taught us to enjoy food once again, we need a new movement within the professional world to ditch networking for a more relaxed form of interaction between fellow practitioners. Probably this way Hopi’s feared snubbery will be a thing of the past and those drinks after a long day of conferences will taste a lot better than they do today.

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Barack Obama’s campaign was being hailed as the beginning of a new era of open politics. He was letting the netroots into his campaigning organisation and many in the progressive blogosphere were ready to proclaim the beginning of a new form of open source and fully transparent government.

But the first signs of disappointment from the netroots have emerged after Obama’s support for FISA, a hot issue within the right to privacy fight, and his campaign opting out of public funding without any sort of public consultation. Tim Watts over at TOK as well summarises the conclusions from last week’s Personal Democracy Forum where you can feel a certain degree of dissapointment within the techno-political world with Obama’s not fully revolutionary campaign. Tim argues that new technology and web 2.0 have helped as campaign tools rather than as a vehicle for open source campaigning.

Here it’s why campaigning, unlike government, cannot yet be open source and how those new tools aren’t the problem, the problem is campaigners.

Campaigning is a zero-sum game. One campaigns during two to three months and people make up their minds votes for one of the candidates and the other one simply just goes home. In government however defeat can be neutralised by a win later, one gets four years to do it. In campaigning is make or break politics and that involves a high degree of strategy. Strategising involves moderation, the need to build a winning coalition. The Democratic netroots are uncompromisingly liberal and that is a great thing. But to win an election anywhere in the world one needs to appeal beyond your party base to moderate independents. There’s a clear explanation why Obama is voting for FISA, to avoid every Democrat nightmare, the ‘soft on terrorism’ tag. Most political parties’ grassroots are always more extreme than the party leadership, the reason for that is that they aren’t running for office.

Greater transparency of government is something we can hope for with an Obama presidency, greater input from citizens on government matters as well. But when it comes to campaigning where decissions have to be made fast and can be decisive to the final outcome it’s not going to happen, at least not yet. Campaign managers, even the most open source-friendly ones, with a chance to win will never give up essential decission-making powers.

Let’s get Barack Obama elected first and then monitor and demand of his government those changes we want to see. Campaign pledges and the FISA vote are important but an actual presidency is what really matters. Obama is what’s called a political premium brand, so much is expected of him that sometimes we forget he still has to win the traditional politics game as well and that involves things we might not like. But we need to keep the eye on the ball to help a Democrat get elected in November.

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Following on last week’s post on Labour weak online operation I found an interesting reflection by Charlie Beckett from the Polis Institute about the same issue. You can read it here.

Charlie poses an interesting question in his post, is it easier to be a blogger when in opposition? I will say probably yes. The ironic and straight-forward language that best suits blogging also best suits destructive writing rather than constructive. In other words, it’s easier to attack an argument for its flaws than construct one oneself. Wit and brevity are basic components of any successful blog and so are they in opposition politics where facts and figures are pretty irrelevant when attacking a government.

So I pose my own question now, will the British left wing blogosphere grow stronger and more influential if Cameron wins the next election?

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